MRG Abortion Press Conference

MRG Abortion Press Conference

The MRG Steering Committee organized a press conference on January 8 [1985] in Toronto in an effort to lend support to the pro-choice forces in the current abortion controversy. About 20 media representatives attended, and the conference received good coverage on radio, television, and in the Toronto Star and Sun. (See elsewhere in this Newsletter for clippings.) The stance taken at the press conference reflected the MRG’s position that abortion should be matter of a woman’s personal conscience, and that free-standing (ie non-hospital) abortion clinics should be set up to provide medically insured abortions. Reproduced below are the press release which was distributed, and the fact sheet which accompanied the press release:


“Legal abortion in Ontario are unnecessarily dangerous, said the Medical Reform Group today, blaming provincial government inaction for the situation. The 150 member physicians’ group called upon the Ontario Cabinet to bypass the present system of hospital abortion quotas which, the group believes, cause unnecessary delay, increasing the risks associated with the procedure. Spokespersons for the organization pointed out that abortion is legal in Canada, in keeping with majority public opinion, but that the present system for providing it is both dangerous and inequitable. Medical Reform Group members said that free-standing abortion clinics, such as those currently operating in the province of Quebec, not only have an excellent safety record but actually reduce overall risks by allowing women to have abortions earlier in their pregnancies.

“The medical complications of abortion,” said Dr. Debby Copes of Toronto, are both more frequent and more serious when a woman has to wait a number of weeks to have the procedure. This is currently the case in many parts of Ontario, where few hospitals perform abortions, said Dr. Copes. “Delaying abortions past the first three months of pregnancy is especially risky and upsetting to the woman – and it is particularly the poor, very young women and those in rural areas who are likely to suffer because of these delays.”

The best solution to this problem, the group argued, is to make abortions widely available in free-standing clinics, providing high-quality care, as has been done in Quebec.

It is unacceptable, said Dr. Miriam Garfinkle of Toronto, for the government of Ontario to continue prosecuting Dr. Morgentaler, the operator of such a clinic, despite four jury acquittals on the same charge. Rather it should use the money it is spending in the courts to solve the underlying problem by establishing publicly supported clinics.

“On behalf of our women patients and those of other physicians in Ontario,” said Dr. Bob James of Dundas, “We call on the provincial cabinet to show some political courage and stop making disadvantaged women pay the price for government inaction on this issue. We call for establishment of first rate, publicly funded clinics across the province where women in this difficult situation can obtain humane, competent care, medicare insured, without dangerous delays.”

Related Topics: AbortionHealth Care AccessHealth Care in OntarioReproductive RightsWomen’s Health